In this post, I will share a response I gave to a question posed on LinkedIn regarding best practices when using Twitter for Social Media Marketing and Sales. The person asking the question was interested in hearing from people who actually used Twitter and made sales; and he wanted to know what industry and techniques were involved in the Internet Marketing Plan. The following is my response:
Twitter is a tool for building and maintaining relationships – including prospects, leads, customers, referral sources, members of the media, prospective employees and other audiences – the way you would other tools from a business perspective.
Twitter provides an individual or business the opportunity to interact with a customer base; track what people are saying about your business or industry; share content from other sources, such as blog posts, webinars or videos; develop direct relationships with bloggers and journalists; and promote your upcoming events, product releases and job openings.
Twitter activity should be implemented within an overall Internet Marketing Plan, rather than existing as a separate marketing or sales effort unto itself. Just as traditional networking or trade shows are best approached as part of a cohesive marketing plan, so it is with Twitter when it is combined with other business marketing strategies.
In most business-to-business environments, as well as many business-to-consumer relationships, prospective customers interact with a company through multiple touch points, over an extended time frame, at varying stages of the buying process. Being relationship-focused, rather than transaction-focused, in 80% or more of your Twitter messages is generally more effective in nurturing relationships and winning customers for life; whereas using Twitter to pump out sales pitches tends to choke off relationships.
That said, Twitter has been an effective Social Media Marketing tool for my clients and my business, and generated actual sales leads, by helping move prospects further along the buying process. Some of the interactions that Twitter activity has influenced include: reading a blog post, signing up for a newsletter, downloading a white paper, filling out a contact form, requesting a free trial, and setting up meetings. Whether a contact has been made first on Twitter, or whether it has been made on Twitter after a relationship has been established elsewhere, Twitter has been an effective Social Media Marketing tool for businesses who make it part of their Internet Marketing Plan.
One of my clients, a growing and successful accounting firm in the Washington DC Metro Area, @ECohenCPAs, has acquired a substantial following on Twitter, consisting of government contractors, nonprofit organizations, professional service companies, entrepreneurial and middle-market businesses, high net worth individuals, and others interested in a steady stream of tax tips, audit news and business advisory resources for its various client communities.
Rather than posting content only on its Twitter and other social media accounts, @ECohenCPAs uses its social platforms to share links to its own content, as well as quality content published by others, and bring visitors back to the firm’s blog and website, where it has set up specific landing pages, resources and forms designed to convert visitors into leads, customers into raving fans, and journalists into advocates of the brand. The firm also links together all of its social media accounts and website with its bi-weekly email newsletter that reaches around 11,000 subscribers, which makes the Twitter account easier to find and share with others.
In summary, Twitter can and does play an important role in the Internet Marketing Plan and sales process for both businesses and consumers; and the best Twitter Social Media Marketing practices include active listening, relationship building, sharing useful and helpful information, providing resources to address people’s needs, providing links to your other content, and driving traffic to your website and blog pages that are designed to deepen interaction with your prospects, leads, customers, and other influencers who make up your audience.